One of the benefits of observing homeschoolers for many years before I was blessed with a child is that I had the opportunity to read lots of articles and blogs posts written by moms who shared their mistakes. They wrote of the things they wished they could do over, what they would change, their regrets, etc. I took those pieces very much to heart and so I’ve tried to be purposeful in not getting too caught up in the things that don’t matter.
Understanding What My Child Needs
What has challenged me more than anything was trying to understand my own child including her personality and her learning style. Although we share many similarities, we are also different in some profound ways. Caroline is very much a right-brained learner.
(For more info about this, see The Right Side of Normal: Understanding and Honoring the Natural Learning Path for Right-Brained Children.)
I have had to learn to think differently about time, how she learns, what she does well, what she struggles with, etc. And so it has taken me a few years to get to the point where I feel mostly comfortable with our approach and way of homeschooling.
Reasons For Relaxed Homeschooling
I consider myself a relaxed homeschooler primarily for one reason: I do what works. As one wise homeschooling mom said, “Give me something and I’ll make it work.”
I try to avoid getting caught up in the quest for the “right” curriculum or using the “right” approach or listening to the “right” homeschooling guru. No matter how much an expert might know about curriculum, no one knows my child the way I do. I’ve studied her. A lot. I’ve invested a great deal of emotional and mental energy into trying to understand what makes her tick.
No one knows your child and your situation the way you do. You are your own mini-homeschooling guru when it comes to homeschooling your child in your home. You are the expert or expert-in-training.
By the time your child hits early elementary, you probably have a Ph.D. in her! The trick is finding what works for your child and you.
It really doesn’t matter what the professional homeschooling guru or popular homeschooling blogger thinks you should do.
You can do your homeschool any way you wish. The guru will never know!
Our Relaxed Homeschooling Approach
Although sometimes I feel like we are unschoolers, we really aren’t. It only feels that way to me because of my professional background as a teacher where everything is regulated and structured. When I read about actual unschooling, we really don’t fit that. We do have some structure and it isn’t completely open-ended and child-driven. So I think relaxed homeschooling is probably the best descriptor of where we are right now.
In this series, I’m going to share my approach to relaxed homeschooling in the early elementary years. The topics include:
- Relaxed Homeschooling Reading and Writing
- Relaxed Homeschooling Math
- Relaxed Homeschooling Science
- Relaxed Homeschooling History
I hope you will stop by and share your own experiences and wisdom each day in the comments section!
So much of this resonates with me, too, Sallie! I think that the label “relaxed homeschooler” is spot on for us, too. Love this series you are doing. We have had our ups and downs but right now I am thrilled at where our journey has taken us, and fascinated at experiencing this type of learning since it differs so much from my own education. I often wonder where my path would have taken me if I had been homeschooled! I haven’t read the book you mentioned but I may check it out. Both of my kids have different learning styles but I find they do best when I do less. =)
David and I have also wondered what our learning experience would have been if we had been homeschooled. It’s both fascinating and a little scary to be on this adventure with Caroline. Fascinating to explore all the possibilities we never had available to us, but scary because like all parents we want to do it well and we’re making it up as we go! LOL!
Ginger @ School en casa
This is so similar to our experience! I think it is our background as teachers that makes us panic occasionally, and think we’re doing it all wrong. I discovered last year that elementary Montessori follows this very theory. Not unstructured, and not learning only what the child desires, but of carefully observing them to give them the learning experiences they need at the point at which they need them. No pushing, and no holding back when the interest and ability are there. The AMI Montessori albums I use are structured to give students the “keys to the universe”, and give me a framework for what students should study and know by age 12. But the path to get there will be different for each student.
This is also what has convinced me that homeschool is the best setting for my son; he rejects anything I give him that is remotely akin to busywork, and many of the things I know he would have to do in public school. We came to homeschooling with the “we’ll try it this year and reevaluate in June” mentality, and we still do that, but I think we are in it for the foreseeable future, now.
That’s a great way to describe it! I rarely plan out more than a few days at a time in detail because I observe Caroline while we are working and try to determine what she needs at that moment. I adapt our lessons on the fly as well depending on how she’s doing, her energy level that day, etc. 🙂
I’ve recently labeled ourselves a relaxed homeschool. I’ve always shied away from the term because people look at me funny and makes me feel inferior and feel like i’m not doing enough. I’ve learned after 12 years of doing this , don’t stress about doing every subject every day , get the understanding in place before we move on, take cues from the kids , when they’re done they’re done , I do tend to push a bit harder at that point but learned to know when enough is enough . It’s nice to read here . We’re okay. My 16 year old has started duel enrollment at community college so I guess we’re doing something right. 5 kids in this house , no room for stress.
I am so glad I stumbled upon your website. We have been doing CC since August. I am not loving it and was searching for a more “relaxed” curriculum and after reading your story I’m inspired. I’m so glad I found this my daughter just turned 5 in Dec 2020. I will definitely be using your site and printable pages in the near future. Thank you for this information and doing something like this.
Welcome! I’m glad you found your way here as well. I try to respond to questions in a timely manner so if you have any, feel free to add them to any post.